Branded Cards

Cashless venues are missing an opportunity

Many loyal fans and attendees put cash in their pocket when heading to a live event. 

Cash-only parking lots, the beer guys who walk the aisles, nachos, a tip, a bag of peanuts, a new hat; who knows. 

As of 2022, 41 percent of Americans say they go cashless in a typical week, up from 24 percent in 2015.

But to many fans’ surprise when they walk into a live event, their favorite teams and venues are going cashless. 

Many types of venues are now entirely cashless or moving toward going cashless. Arenas, theaters, outdoor live events, and stadiums; at least 26 of 30 Major League Baseball parks are moving away from cash.  

The beer guys, the hot dog stands, merchandise and souvenirs; all cashless. 

So what are surprised cash-carrying fans to do? That cash in their pocket they allocated for the event is now worthless in the venue. So, fans switch to their traditional bank cards or cards in their Apple Wallet, and (hopefully) spend as much as they were planning to with their cash. 

Beyond venues potentially missing out on sales from the cash in attendee’s pockets, the venue now must pay processing fees on every single transaction, often 1-2% of the transaction, instead of taking cash at no fee to them.   

And more importantly, teams and venues are missing a prime opportunity to more deeply engage their fans. 

Here’s how: 

Imagine instead of forcing customers to switch to traditional bank cards as opposed to the cash that was burning a hole in their pocket, if the facility had kiosks around the venue to turn cash into a prepaid card. 

The prepaid card the venue generates could either be a physical card with their favorite player dispensed from the machine directly, or a virtual card they could add to a mobile wallet. 

Fans could load all of the cash they had allocated for their trip to the venue, knowing they can spend the money any time they come back, or transfer it out of the account if they’d like to spend it elsewhere.    

The venue benefits in a few different ways. 


Increasing day-of sales 

In a cashless venue, with the cash customers dedicated for the day now unable to be spent in the facility, attendees may not feel compelled to spend as much as they would have if they were able to spend their cash. 

With the ability to load prepaid cards, fans could freely spend all the cash they had allocated at the event for food, drinks, and merchandise using their new card. 


Reducing transaction fees 

When fans load prepaid cards issued by the venue, all transactions in the venue are then “in-network,” meaning, the venue doesn’t need to pay traditional processing fees, often 1-2% of every transaction. Instead, the venue only pays a transaction fee at the time the card is loaded. 


Welcoming all fans

Making it easy for fans to load cash onto a prepaid card in a cashless venue is also a way to demonstrate inclusivity and increase sales, allowing those customers who may not have access to funds in account or in a mobile wallet to freely spend their cash at the venue.  

“Whereas cash enables everyone, no matter their age, credit history, immigration status or income, to pay directly for goods or services rather than use an intermediary, credit cards generally require a bank account. Not everyone — including 301,700 households, or almost one in 10 households in New York City — has one.” (New York Times Opinion, ‘The Cost of Going Cashless’, Nov. 13, 2022)


Not just for converting cash: The new opportunity to engage fans 

While making it easy for attendees to load cash onto cards to spend in a cashless venue is a win-win for attendees and the venue, the real value in offering prepaid cards lies within utilizing the prepaid card as a mechanism to more deeply engage consumers. 

Beyond those fans who created their new cards because they had cash in their pocket, venues can encourage fans to generate a branded prepaid card at any point, like when they are purchasing tickets. The venue could encourage the creation and loading of a prepaid card, so attendees can prefund their additional purchases, like food and drink, and encourage the fan to load the account for discounts. 

Because all transactions on the card are in network, the venue can utilize the savings on the transaction fee to fund or offset discounts to consumers using their new cards at the venue. 

When the attendee creates their card, the venue asks for basic information, like name and email. They also have the data that shows, for example, that someone generated and loaded their card on family day and bought cotton candy, snow cones, and popcorn, which can be leveraged in future marketing offers to encourage the family to come back on the next family day at the park. 

For venues that really want to deepen customer engagement, the facility or team can enable features like Save Now, Buy Later, so fans can save over time using their card to purchase season tickets or splurge on the next big act coming to town. 


It’s easy for cashless venues to more deeply engage customers 

Many newly cashless venues still don't offer the option to load cash onto a card. Instead, consumers are keeping their cash in their pocket. 

Offering branded prepaid cards, whether it be to make it easy for consumers to load cash, or as a mechanism to allow attendees to load funds into their account ahead of arriving at the venue, it’s an exciting opportunity for cashless venues to more deeply engage their customer base. 

If you’d like to learn more about issuing prepaid cards in your cashless venue, contact us today.

Written by Alviere